Once considered more valuable than gold in medieval Europe, cinnamon found favor in religious ceremonies, as a flavoring and as a remedy for gynecological problems. Practitioners of herbal medicine claim that cinnamon may help treat excessive menstrual bleeding, while results take up to four months. The need for further scientific evidence exists to substantiate such claims, however. If you suffer from irregular menstrual bleeding, only use cinnamon after consulting your doctor.
Native to India, Sri Lanka and the Phillippines, cinnamon is a tropical evergreen tree that reaches heights of 30 feet and bears leathery leaves, white flowers and small purple fruit. It has a soft, aromatic, reddish-brown bark that contains the essential oil cinnamaldehyde -- a source of the plant's medicinal powers. According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, test tube and animal studies indicate that cinnamon oil provides antifungal, antibacterial, and antiparasitic properties. Research also shows that cinnamon inhibits many types of oral bacteria and may prove useful in treating vaginal yeast infections.
Used in India as a contraceptive after childbirth, cinnamon tinctures were the standard treatment for uterine bleeding before the 1900s. According to Andrew Chevallier, naturopath and author of the book "DK Natural Health Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine," cinnamon possesses slight emmenagogic properties that activate the uterus and encourage menstrual bleeding. Phyllis A. Balch, certified nutritional consultant and author of the book "Prescription for Herbal Healing," says that research backs that up, but she clarifies the data. Studies indicate that certain types of cinnamon may inhibit thromboxane A, a substance in the blood that causes blood platelets to clump and clot. With less clotting and a more normal blood flow, you might draw the conclusion that cinnamon enhances excessive menstrual bleeding. However, the opposite appears true -- cinnamon actually stops heavy periods and abnormal bleeding. Balch adds, "This action, paradoxically, reduces uterine bleeding by stimulating blood flow away from the uterus."
You can purchase dried cinnamon bark in quills, or sticks, powder or essential oil. For excessive menstrual bleeding, Phyllis A. Balch recommends taking 15 to 30 drops of cinnamon essential oil diluted in 1/4 cup of water. Drink the mixture up to three times per day.
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While generally considered safe in the powdered form used for cooking and baking, cinnamon's essential oil has considerably more concentration. Excessive quantities of cinnamon oil may depress your central nervous system. Due to safety concerns, children, nursing women, men with prostate problems and people with kidney or liver damage should avoid cinnamon oil. As high doses can induce abortion, pregnant women should not use cinnamon in any form.
- University of Minnesota: A Taste of Paradise
- "DK Natural Health Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine"; Andrew Chevallier; 2000
- "Prescription for Herbal Healing"; Phyllia A. Balch; 2002
Susan DeFeo has been a professional writer since 1997. She served as a community events columnist for New Jersey's "Cape May County Herald" for more than a decade and currently covers the family and pet beat for CBS Philadelphia. Her health, fitness, beauty and travel articles have appeared in various online publications. DeFeo studied visual communications at SUNY Farmingdale.